Monday, 23 December 2013

Let's Have More Love & Less Stuff All Year Round!

No matter your religion or lack thereof - this time of the year carries with it a strong message of kindness toward others! For some people this involves their spiritual beliefs, for others it simply marks the end of a year and a time to take stock and appreciate those around us. 
This special holiday season post is inspired by Planet Ark's message of "More Love, Less Stuff". Here are some of my tips to keep that spirit of loving kindness going all year round!

is for cruelty-free

Every day feels like Christmas when you're making life better for our animal friends! The Gift of Kindness is a beautiful book by Pam Ahern from Edgar's Mission and a great reminder of the wonders of a cruelty-free life
is for hope

With a little bit of thought your purchasing choices can bring hope to those in need and beauty to your life. By purchasing this funky flamingo tea towel from Arthouse Meath for instance, you're supporting artists with severe epilepsy and learning difficulties

 is for reduce, reuse and recycle
It's so easy for us to get trapped in a cycle of consumerism, so it can be a beautiful relief to shift our focus onto more sustainable options. One small step would be to cover gifts given throughout the year with reusable wrapping such as the lovely options from ecoChici

is for inspiring others

Beautiful ethical fashion can be a lovely subtle way to inspire those around us! This chic top by Vaute Couture - made from a blend of organic cotton, recycled polyester, and naturally occurring rayon - carries the message that elephants are our friends and not our entertainment
is for sustainable fashion choices

When you feel you can't avoid a new purchase there are so many amazing ethical online stores to make finding a sustainably chic option oh so easy! You can find most of them by searching Kindness by Design :)
is for taking action!

There's no need to wait for the holiday season to consider the welfare of those less fortunate than us! If there's a cause that's near and dear to your heart - why not find a way to take action? One thing I'll be doing in 2014 will be to participate in Fashion Revolution Day to shine a light on the humanitarian issues within the fashion industry
is for mindfulness

Have you ever been entranced by the wonder of a sunset? Completely engrossed in a conversation? Fully aware of the taste and texture of a piece of fruit? Being mindful of even the smallest of blessings can help you create a kinder life. I've just joined the Happier site which encourages people to share the things that make them smile
is for artisans

There are so many benefits to purchasing items handmade by artisans who are working under ethical conditions and are being paid a fair wage. Not only do you end up with a beautifully crafted product, you also have the opportunity to support: (1) traditional skills and cultural traditions; (2) empowerment and financial independence for women; (3) education and health for the wider local community. AfriBeads for example, brings you stunning jewellery from female artisans living in Uganda
is for saving our threatened species

Next time you buy something I invite you to ask - how does this purchase affect wildlife? I only recently learned that a rare mineral found in most mobile phones is being mined in precious gorilla habitat! It's amazing how deeply our lifestyle choices can have far reaching implications. Thankfully there are options out there that actually make a positive difference, like these Orangutan Project Thongs from Etiko. They're made under fairtrade conditions using sustainable materials AND proceeds go toward reintroducing orangutans back into the wild :)

Friday, 13 December 2013

Checking It Twice Will Keep You Off the Naughty List!

Want to guarantee your place on the nice list this holiday season? Checking It Twice is a free service that will help you do just that! An initiative of Ethical Consumers Australia - this great site provides no-cost personalised gift advice for those who care about people and the planet.

According to their spokesperson Gordon Renouf, "Christmas is not just about getting, it’s also about choosing gifts which show you care. Gifts that send a powerful message about your values to the recipient and also have a positive impact on the wider world”. 

So how does it all work? Start by browsing their existing list of curated gifts for good. Then you can send the team information on: who the gift is for; your budget; the issues you care about; and even the sort of present you already have in mind. After that you can just sit back and relax and the team will contact you within a few hours of your submission with two or three gift suggestions which match your needs. These new ideas are then put on the website to help others make better gift decisions.

Here are just a few of my favourite gift suggestions from the site:

Children's Workshop at Reverse Garbage - This program aimed at young kids shows how fun being green can be! Each child takes home an eco-toy that they've made themselves :)
Upcycled iMac Pet Bed - This example from Atomic Attic comes complete with slipcover and fluffy cushion for added kitty comforts!
Triangle Shard Skateboard Necklace by Deadwood Creative - These super tasty looking pendants have been lovingly hand-crafted from pieces of broken skateboard. They also come in their own recycled paper pouch!
Black Hitops from Etiko - A great choice for the chic man! Not only do these shoes look good, but they're a triple threat as well >> sustainable, fairtrade AND vegan :)

You can also visit Checking It Twice on Facebook and Twitter

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Kind Events: Fashion Hound's VIP Thrift Shopping Event #3

Last Wednesday I had the pleasure of combining a few of my favourite things - thrift shopping, catching up with friends and giving back to the community - thanks to Faye De Lanty's 3rd VIP Thrift Shopping Event!

Catching up with Faye de Lanty and Ryan Collins for shopping and a good cause!
Photo: (c)
Bryan Marden

Held at the Red Cross Shop in Rozelle, Sydney, proceeds from the night's shopping go directly toward the amazing programs run by the Australian Red Cross

Red Cross stores sell fab recycled and new goods to raise funds for the everyday work of Australian Red Cross. Photo: (c) Ryan Collins

TV Presenter and sustainable fashion advocate Faye (also known as the Fashion Hound) has created this series of deluxe thrift shopping nights to show how fabulous 2nd hand fashion can be! During the evening Faye demonstrated her penchant for celebrity styling using items from in-store. 

This model has been given the Gwyneth Paltrow treatment.
Photo: (c)
Bryan Marden 
Here's a model rocking a Nicole Ritchie inspired look!
Photo: (c) Ryan Collins

If like me your style is a little less celeb and a little more eclectic - thrift shops can be treasure troves of quirky awesomeness. For instance I nabbed myself this cute little bee handbag :)

One of the highlights of the night was the photo-bombing bow-tie wearing pooch and his reluctant but dapper fellow fido. Faye always makes sure there's some real fashion hounds at her fabulous events!

Media savvy fashion pup! Photo: (c) Ryan Collins
A puppy photo-bombing moment :) Photo: (c) Ryan Collins
Some pups basked in the paparazzi glow, while others (left) merely tolerated it! 
Photo: (c) Bryan Marden
Buying something feels so much better when you know that all of the proceeds will be going to projects making the world a better place. By shopping at one of Red Cross's stores you're supporting worthwhile initiatives focused on pressing issues such as: food security; mental health; homelessness; social isolation; emergency services and much more. 

Photo: (c) Bryan Marden
Photo: (c) Ryan Collins
Photo: (c) Ryan Collins
Chilling with my fellow ecofashionistas Faye de Lanty and Julia Roebuck 
Photo: (c) Bryan Marden
You can keep up to date with Fashion Hound's events via Facebook and Twitter

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Kindness by Review: Vegan Treats for Lovers of LUSH Pampering!

“There must be quite a few things that a hot bath won't cure, but I don't know many of them”
― Sylvia Plath

For as long as I can remember, a nice hot bath has been my mainstay for soothing both body and mind. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to try three of LUSH's new 100% vegan bath time goodies. Perfect as stocking-stuffers this season or as an anytime treat for yourself!  

 1. Shoot For The Stars Bath Ballistic (AUD$6.75)

I wasn't expecting a simple bath product to bring to mind Vincent van Gogh's masterpiece "The Starry Night". But as the water in my bathtub swirled with shades of blues, a touch of yellow, deep purple and sparkling silver stars, I was already feeling enchanted and I hadn't even hopped in yet! 

Don't be alarmed when the water settles into a dark glittering purple - it won't stain your bathtub. I found this whimsical bath ballistic a charming mix of soothing and uplifting. Definitely a treat after a hard day's work!

2. Angel's Delight Soap (AUD$5.90)

If you're a fan of all things sugary sweet then you'll love this slice of Angel's Delight soap packed with tangerine oil, orange oil and gardenia oil. Using this was like cleaning myself with fairy floss - so watch out if you're not keen on soaps with fragrance.

One of the cool things about LUSH soaps is that they come in chunky slabs that last for ages! 

3. Sandy Santa Scrub (AUD$6.50)

Who knew that Santa's face could do such wonders for dry skin!  My skin felt amazing after using this Santa-themed combination body butter and scrub. Keep your body smooth and hydrated with this mix of coconut oil, murumuru and organic shea butters, as well as sugar and sand.

In Australia we're coming into summertime right now, so this scrub with its Brazilian orange oil is great for keeping legs beach-ready

You can find more LUSH vegan Christmas treats here!


Monday, 25 November 2013

One Colour is Creating Positive Change Through Fashion

It's almost impossible not to feel uplifted after hearing the story behind ethical brand One Colour! Recently bestowed with a "Highly Commended" at the Green Awards 2013 for their darling woven creatures, this exciting Australian-based label has now launched a new women’s wear brand, ethically produced in Kenya.

Most of the fabrics used by this ecochic label are 100% rain-fed cotton grown in East Africa, which helps support small-scale farmers. It was such a privilege to interview Di Stitt - Founding Director of One Colour - for Kindness by Design!

Q. What inspired you to create ethical brand One Colour?

One Colour had its inception back in 2004 when I was reading a biography of Bono, U2 front man (yes, I am a U2 tragic from way back). He mentioned that his wife, Ali Hewson, was founding a clothing label, EDUN, with the aim of supporting sustainable trade with Africa. 

At the same time I discovered the extent of extreme poverty in the world – a global catastrophe where 1.4 billion were living on no more than $2 a day and as if I had been waiting for my cue, I decided that I would “do something” about it. It look a little longer to work out what that “something” might be, but the move from the Hunter Valley to Brisbane in 2006 provided me with an opportunity to start the venture. One Colour as evolved since then into a sustainable social enterprise dedicated to ethical trade with businesses and individuals in Africa. 

We work with Viva Africa in Nakuru, the Kenana Knitters in Njoro and 3 other Nairobi based suppliers, Mikono Knits, Sammy Semat with his own jewellery line and Zawadi, founded by Angela, an Australian friend living in Nairobi. Ensuring that One Colour is authentic in the way we approach people, and relevant in the way we approach design, keeps me energised and focused.

Q. How would you describe One Colour in 10 words or less?

Creating positive change through fashion

Q. What makes One Colour a great choice for environmentally and socially conscious shoppers? 

Our 2 major pillars in this regard are the use of African sourced cotton for 99.9% of the range and partnering with local Kenyan businesses for production.

By producing our range in Kenya from African cotton the value of the raw product (cotton) can be magnified, bringing employment opportunities to more people. The cotton is grown sustainably by small scale farmers using crop rotation methods, seasonal rain and generally around 30% less pesticides.

I personally visit the Kenyan businesses I partner with annually and throughout the year via internet we have the opportunity to share our lives to a certain extent. A part from the business emails, we ask after each other’s families and discuss every day happenings. Little by little we are building something far more valuable than a fashion brand.

Q. Which ethical designers are inspiring you right now?

Q. Can you tell us a little bit about how One Colour is empowering women in Africa?

The garment industry globally is a huge employer of women and Kenya is no different. The majority of tailors and garment workers who make the One Colour range are strong, amazing Kenyan women. Our modest contribution towards empowering African women is by ensuring that we work with suppliers who adhere to certain principles; paying the minimum wage plus entitlements, providing a safe, clean workplace, opportunity for advancement and access to healthy living information with regard to HIV/AIDS, which is still a major issue. The flow on effect when one person has ongoing employment is such that the family can afford to pay for food, schooling and generally contribute to the local economy. 

We also work with the Kenana Knitters in Njoro, handling the distribution of their beautiful hand knit toys in Australia and New Zealand. Kenana Knitters is a grass roots organization bringing employment to rural Kenyan women. The women are paid per piece, work in a family friendly environment and have access to a monthly health clinic. They hand knit either homespun woollen or organic cotton animals. The wool is dyed with either vegetables or plants and they use non-toxic dyes for the organic cotton yarn. Being able to see with my own eyes the difference that work with the Kenana Knitters has made to the women and their families is such a privilege. 

Q. Do you have a favourite item in store right now?

The Rebecca Vest Dress – I’m wearing this garment often and everywhere.

Q. If you could change just one thing about the fashion industry, what would it be?

Anyone who has made their own clothes knows the time it takes to make a quality garment. So I want to encourage people to make the connection between the garment and the maker. I also believe that the work the farmers do to grow crops, the machine operators who spin the yarn, the dyers who are involved in dyeing the thread, the garment workers, the quality checkers and the packers should all be acknowledged in the process.

When we acknowledge that our garment is not just a thing we buy and wear, it is something that can provide a decent wage to people, often living half way across the world, then I think it’s possible to see change occurring. Okay, it’s one big thing I’d change about the fashion industry! 

Q. What does the future hold for One Colour?

At the moment, 4 things come to mind:

1. Keep building the brand with integrity and respect, paying particular attention to our supplier and customer relationships.

2. Explore better ways to source our fabric from within Africa, with some interesting developments hopefully opening up in 2014.

3. Striving to stay alive to, and keep excited and challenged with what’s possible in design so that One Colour remains wearable well into the future.

4. Remember to laugh and be thankful. 

You can connect with One Colour via Facebook, Twitter and their Blog

Friday, 22 November 2013

Emi & Eve - Making Beauty from Bullets

Aaah look what arrived in the mail this week!!! My gorgeous gift for supporting Emi & Eve's #bullets4beauty campaign on Indiegogo

This stunning Peace bracelet has been handmade from recycled bullets and bombshell casing shrapnel found in Cambodian rice fields. 

The brainchild of Hong Kong-based fashion and textile designer Cassandra Postema, Emi & Eve roams the remote "and not so remote areas of Asia to find artisans who recycle, reclaim and create crafts that deserve to be seen, not only because of their beauty, but because of their stories of overcoming". 

You can see more stunning Emi & Eve pieces here!